E-Mail Debate: Defining Moment and Individual Story
It’s tough to pinpoint just one standout moment from a season chock full of them, but that’s exactly what Suns.com’s Greg Esposito and Matt Petersen attempted to do in their latest round of e-mail debates. The duo discussed the 2013-14 campaign in hopes of reaching a consensus on 1) the best moment from the season and 2) the best individual story of the year. Did they get it right? Read on to find out.
MATT: There’s an issue that needs addressing, Greg. As it stands right now, the 2013-14 season was a buffet. Everything made it what it was. All of the moments and players added up to the final product. Every season recap/review/reverie leads to another one, simply because everything is on the table.
I hate buffets. There’s too much of everything and not enough of any one thing, particularly the main course.
What was this season’s main course when it comes to “defining moment”? The headline image? Go.
GREG: As you know, by taking one look at me, I love buffets. I love them because you can spend hours trying numerous different things without the pressure of picking just one. That doesn’t mean at the end I don’t decide what my favorite was. Believe me, I know, since I have a front row seat for them at numerous hotels during Las Vegas Summer League.
I had a front row seat for this year’s buffet of Suns moments. There were the appetizers, the salads, the main course and the deserts.
The my favorite appetizer was Eric Bledsoe’s game-winner against Utah at the beginning of the season. The salad? Well, since it’s all about the Greens, it has to be Gerald’s off the backboard to himself dunk. The desert, that’s easy. It’s all about sweet and that moment was when Specialist Jamie Bledsoe, of the California National Guard, surprised his son Logan who he hadn’t seen in 10 months. It was easily the most touching moment of the season.
The main course? When Goran Dragic broke his career scoring record for the first time. Why? Because the backstory was unbelievable. He had become a father just before the season and his son didn’t see his dad play in a game until February. On his first night at US Airways Center the Lil’ Dragon helped his dad soar.
Don’t take my word for it. Take Goran’s.
“I was a little bit hyped,” he said after the game. “I tried to show him what his daddy can do. It was a fun game.”
Not only was the backstory great, so was the performance. He had 34 points, dropped 10 dimes and led the Suns to a victory over the Warriors. Oh, and 13 of those 34 points came in the final seven minutes of the game.
If we’re talking buffets that is the prime rib topped with king crap leg of all you can eat.
MATT: I knew the food analogy would get things going, though I’m regretting the pathetic, frozen corn dogs I’m stuck with, today.
Dragic’s 34 was nice. Cute back story. “Aw shucks” material.
It was also trumped less than three weeks later, when he torched New Orleans for 40 points. Aside from the point total, there’s also this to consider: there’s a big difference between scoring over Jermaine O’Neal and taking Anthony Davis to task.
The other even-better factor: Dragic’s son AND parents were at the Pelicans game.
GREG: Sure, feel free to just steal my moment and slightly alter for your benefit.
If you don’t like the “aw shucks’ factor than how about I hit you with some pure symbolism? One of the best individual moments and not complete games is Gerald Green off the backboard to himself. If that didn’t embody everything that was the 2013-14 Suns nothing does.
It went from, “what an awful move and shot” in the shortsighted instant reaction to “what a brilliant and thought out move.”
As Green ducked under the defender he threw up what looked like a poor and rushed shot. What everyone didn’t realize was Green had bigger and better plans. As he instantly took off grabbed the ball off the backboard and slammed it home. Sounds kind of like the “experts” picking the Suns to finish dead last in the west in their initial reactions underestimating the thought that went into putting together the roster only to be shocked by the end result.
Symbolism. Soak it up.
MATT: Hard to go against the Green dunk. You can lump me in with the Blazers on that one. Didn’t see it coming until it happened. That’s the element of the play that really made it resonate.
I felt like that play got lost amid the postseason push, though. Every game – and its outcome – was bigger than the previous one.
Eric Bledsoe’s game-winner stands out a little more in that regard, because it served as the “we’re here now” moment. This was only two games into the season, so no one had any reason (beyond a season-opening win over Portland) to think this season would even be exciting, let alone special.
Bledsoe’s shot was the first hint it might be.
GREG: I’ll see your game winner and raise you one.
The place, Minnesota. The gold blooded assassin, Gerald Green. The temperature, far below zero. The moment, blistering hot.
After trailing most of the game the Suns go on a 9-1 run in the final minutes to win. The entire thing capped off by an 18-foot jumper by Green with seconds left to give the Suns the 104-103 victory. The shot wasn’t only memorable, so was his celebration and the photo of he and Markieff Morris celebrating in mid-air is one of the best of the entire season.
Game … Set … Match. Call that my own personal game winner.
MATT: If we’re going for moment + celebration, we should probably circle back to Dragic’s 40-pointer vs. New Orleans. After being subbed out to a standing ovation, the rest of his teammates play possum for a split second by showing zero reaction to their leader’s career night – before mass-mobbing him on the bench. Impossible to not smile/laugh when watching it.
A few of these guys we’ve mentioned several times already, which leads to a second question: of all the players on this year’s roster, which individual player’s story was the best this season?
GREG: First off, you can’t double back to the same moment you already say in a debate so I’ll take the win thanks to my two favorite words in the English language de-fault.
As for the best individual story, it’s hard to argue against Channing Frye. The man was out of the game for 15 months, wasn’t sure he was going to ever come back and yet somehow started all 82 games for the team. I remember right up until 15 minutes before media day we weren’t even sure if he’d be on the roster, then it was he might not be back until December and by the second day of training camp he was fully participating in everything. An unbelievable and inspiring story.
MATT: Hard to argue with that one. Even Frye was disarmingly and honestly surprised at how quick and complete his comeback was. Another thing he was honest about: he was ready to accept the fact his playing days could be done.
Gerald Green was Frye’s photo negative (including the hops department). Everyone was accepting the fact he was done except Green himself. His first NBA go-around, overseas, and his intriguing half-season return with the then-New Jersey Nets all ended with disappointment. Six NBA teams and countless experts passed on him, including the Pacers team that shipped him to Phoenix.
For him to go from that to one of the best don’t-look-away-because-you-might-miss-something x-factors in the league? Absurd.
GREG: It’s tough to pick one individual guy to single out though. This entire team each had unbelievable individual stories and came together to form a very formidable team. They were kind of the NBA’s version of the Avengers. A rag tag group who had skills but when together were much greater than the sum of their parts.
That is my less than tactful way of side stepping having to actually pick someone.
MATT: Then we’ll finish on this: which Suns are which Avengers? My roster:
Captain America: Goran Dragic (no, he’s not American, but yes, he is hometown leader as far as the Suns are concerned)
Iron Man: Eric Bledsoe (game is as diverse as…wait, what model suit is Stark on, now?)
Hulk: P.J. Tucker (do NOT get in his way when he’s
Thor: Gerald Green (whether it’s raining from deep [lightning] or putting the hammer down on the rim, he’s electric)
Hawkeye: Channing Frye (stationary sharp-shooter)
Nick Fury: Jeff Hornacek (I would pay to see him wear an eyepatch he doesn’t need)
GREG: I know I brought the Avengers comparison but I’ll see your roster and raise you my Suns-Justice League mash up from earlier in the year.
C: Miles Plumlee is Superman as he can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
PF: Channing Frye is Aquaman because all you hear after he shoots is “splash.”
SF: P.J. Tucker is Cyborg strong, brilliant and known for his ability to defend.
SG: Eric Bledsoe is The Flash since his speed was the difference maker on offense and defense
PG: Goran Dragic is Batman because he’s used everything at his disposal to become a difference maker.
Bonus: Gerald Green is Green Lantern as both can create anything they want.
MATT: DC fans will be proud you stuck to your guns instead of crossing over into Marvel land. Just don’t expect Channing Frye to thank you for it.
— Channing Frye (@Channing_Frye) February 5, 2014
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